In another significant shift in the UK’s television broadcasting landscape, ITV has announced that it will be shutting down most of its standard definition (SD) channels on Freesat and Sky, marking a decisive move towards high-definition (HD) broadcasting.
This change, mirroring the path taken by the BBC, represents a major step in ITV’s commitment to delivering high-quality viewing experiences to its audience – but people with older devices may be left behind.
As we previously reported, ITV is extending this upgrade to the last few regions, specifically Channel, Border Scotland, UTV, and Wales.
While the UK-wide ITV1 channel was already available in HD, the regional programming in some areas (local news in particular) was not yet available in HD – therefore SD feeds were kept alive – but that is set to change.
Today, ITV finally revealed the exact dates when those areas will get their regional ITV news programmes in HD.
Furthermore, ITV has announced the dates when some of their channels, specifically ITV3, ITV4, and ITVBe, will no longer be available on SD boxes.
Key Dates For ITV’s SD Shutdown And HD Transition
ITV has set specific dates for the shutdown of SD channels and the launch of regional HD services. Viewers need to mark their calendars for two important dates:
December 12 2023: On this day, ITV will complete its HD rollout across the country. Regions including Channel and Border Scotland, previously not covered, will now have access to ITV1 in HD.
This upgrade ensures that all ITV1 viewers, regardless of their location in the UK, can enjoy the improved picture quality of HD.
January 9, 2024: This is the date when the first major shift occurs. From this day, ITV will cease broadcasting several channels in SD on Freesat and Sky.
This means that viewers with older SD-only satellite set-top boxes will no longer be able to access channels three channels: ITV3, ITV4, and ITVBe, unless they upgrade to an HD satellite receiver.
ITV1 will continue to be available on SD boxes, for now – but without the regional news, which will be HD-only.
Are You Affected By The ITV SD Shutdown?
The upcoming transition to HD broadcasting on satellite platforms impacts a small subset of viewers with SD-only set-top boxes – according to ITV, 98% of digital satellite homes across Sky and Freesat are already receiving HD channels.
As ITV completes its HD upgrade, those in Channel, Border Scotland, UTV, and Wales regions are the focus of the regional news upgrade – but viewers across the UK will eventually lose access to ITV3, ITV4 and ITVBe unless they upgrade to HD.
The steps to determine if you’re affected are straightforward:
Freesat Users: Navigate to Channel 799 on your Freesat box. This is an HD test channel provided by the BBC – but it’s also relevant for affected ITV users.
This channel provides a tool that indicates whether your box is HD-compatible or not. If your box is incompatible, a message will be displayed, guiding you on the necessary steps to transition to HD.
Sky Users: Sky suggests two methods to check your box’s compatibility:
Select Channel 105 on your remote. If Channel 5 HD is displayed, your box is HD-compatible. If Channel 5 is displayed in SD, you’ll need to upgrade your box (Channel 5 is not related to the upcoming changes – but it’s simply an easy channel to use for testing).
Alternatively, press Services on your Sky remote, then press 4, followed by 5 to check your box’s version number. Cross-reference this number with the list of affected boxes provided by Sky.
The affected Sky boxes are:
- 4F01 to 4F06 (Amstrad)
- 4E01 to 4E05 (Grundig)
- 9F01 to 9F08 and 9F0A (Pace)
- 0F01 to 0F05 (Panasonic)
- 4E06 to 4E08 (Thomson)
- 4F2001 to 4F2006 (Amstrad)
- 4F2101 to 4F2118 and 9F2101 to 9F2137 (Amstrad or Pace)
- 9F2001 to 9F2024, PVR2, 9F2201 to 9F2235, 9F2301 to 9F2339 (Pace)
- 4E2101 to 4E2141 (Thomson)
No Changes On Freeview
It’s important to note that these upcoming changes are specific to Freesat and Sky.
Viewers using Freeview and Virgin Media TV will see no changes in ITV’s broadcast, ensuring uninterrupted access to ITV content on these platforms.
For those on satellite who are already HD viewers, the only noticeable change will be the addition of new ITV1 regions in HD.
Upgrading Your Freesat / Sky Box
If you find that your set-top box is SD-only, you’ll need to upgrade to continue enjoying ITV1’s regional content, along with ITV3, ITV4, and ITVBe, from January 9, 2024.
Contact Your Provider: Both Sky and Freesat have helplines to assist you with the upgrade process.
For Sky, you can visit Sky’s Help Page or call 0333-7591018. Freesat users can dial 0345-3130051 for guidance.
Upgrade Your Box:
Sky Users: Sky is offering a hassle-free upgrade to Sky Q at no extra cost, ensuring a seamless transition to HD.
This upgrade doesn’t change your Sky TV package or pricing, which is a relief for viewers wary of additional costs.
Once you sign up, a Sky engineer will install the new Sky Q box at your convenience, enabling you to access all ITV (and BBC) channels in HD.
Freesat Users: Consider upgrading to one of the newer 4K Freesat boxes which also come with streaming apps like BBC iPlayer and ITVX.
Alternatively, the Manhattan SX box is a more budget-friendly option, although it lacks recording capabilities and streaming apps. It’s priced at around £69.
Freesat Financial Support: With the BBC’s HD transition happening at roughly the same time, there’s support available for vulnerable viewers.
Those aged over 75 and/or those in receipt of certain benefits can access a support scheme offering a £40 voucher towards a new Freesat box.
Some viewers, subject to a financial hardship test, may be eligible for a voucher covering the full cost of a replacement box, specifically the Manhattan SX device.
Furthermore, ITVX doesn’t currently stream regional news (other than the London version) – but that’s expected to change in 2024.
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